YUCK!! It’s Tick Time!

“I hate you!” I said under my breath, flicking the small insect off my pant leg while turkey hunting several weeks back. And I’m not alone.

Over the past several weeks conversations among my friends and family have centered on this year’s unusual weather, from the extremely mild winter to the persistent spring rains. Those discussions would eventually turn to the unusually large number of ticks.

“They are as high as I’ve ever seen them,” said my friend and avid outdoorsman , Jarrett Manek, who resides in southern Indiana. “The ticks are horrible this year, said another friend Bob Tapp, who lives in the northern part of the state in Stueben County.

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As spring moves into summer many of us are going to spend a lot of time free from the confines of four walls, as we should. Whether we are fishing, hiking or just playing in the back yard, summertime is meant to be outside. I know of several who already have been placing trail cameras and setting tree stands in preparation for the upcoming deer season. And as we enjoy the outdoors during this time of year we should be aware of ticks, but by no means let them deter us from activities we enjoy.

Yes, each year there are a few cases of Lyme Disease diagnosed in Indiana. This serious, infectious disease is transmitted to humans through bacteria from the bite of infected deer ticks. Unfortunately our area lies right in the middle of some of the highest concentrations in the country. However most ticks don’t carry diseases and the majority of bites will not cause any serious health problems. But one should always be aware.

There are many wives tales and myths concerning proper removal of a tick that may have become attached to your skin. There are special tools and chemicals on the market that can be used to remove these eight-legged pests and although I have not used them I am sure they will work just fine.

But the bottom line is if you do find a tick affixed to your body, the quickest and easiest thing to do is just grab it behind the head with a pair of tweezers, or a tissue for grip, and apply steady back pressure, without twisting, until you pull it out. Sure it’s usually better to remove the entire tick, but don’t be overly concerned if you don’t.

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If you would find one stuck to your body, there is no reason to become immediately alarmed. In most cases a tick must be attached to its host for 24 hours before it can transmit the bacteria causing Lyme disease. The harmful bacteria come from the tick’s abdomen, not the head as many believe.

Lyme disease often times manifests itself with a characteristic round rash around the bite. This may be accompanied by fever, headache, fatigue with muscle and joint pain. Symptoms usually show up about a week or two after the bite. It’s always the safest course of action to see a doctor if these occur. Lyme disease can be successfully treated but many times are overlooked or misdiagnosed.

Ticks find their host by “questing.” They perch on low growing grasses, weeds and shrubs with two front legs outstretched lying in wait for their host to brush by.

When in woods or tall grasses wear long pants and a shirt. Light colored clothing, while not only being cooler, makes it easier to spot ticks that may be on our clothing. Wear a hat too as these pests have also been known to drop from trees and leaves. Shoes and socks are also important protection. Some people will tuck their pants cuffs into their socks creating another barrier.

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Most important is to wear a good quality insect repellent containing some DEET. 3M also makes a product called Ultrathon that dispels many of the common objections to insect repellents of the past. Sawyer makes another that contains a time release DEET formula. As far as any insect repellent goes I have always preferred the lotions.

The time release brands provide a longer lasting barrier than other brands containing higher concentrations of DEET. Look for those that offer protection for eight hours or more per application and are splash and sweat resistant.

Common sense goes a long way when enjoying our outdoor resources. While at the same time ensuring our adventures remain safe and pleasurable. Anytime you come out of areas that you suspect contain ticks, which could even be your own back yard, take a few minutes to check your hair, clothes and skin. Better yet, have someone else do it. There have been some instances where people have come into contact with ticks in the house that were carried in on clothes.

By being aware when it comes to these pesky insects, you will be able to enjoy another great summer season.

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John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.


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